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Inner City Press Global Inner Cities Report - February 14, 2006

Kosovo: Of Collective Punishment and Electricity;

Lights Out on Privatization of Ferronikeli Mines

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press U.N. Correspondent

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 14 – Following the UN Security Council meeting on the status of Kosovo,  the spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Kosovo, Soren Jessen Petersen, took brief questions from reporters. He was asked, by Inner City Press, about the status of electricity in Kosovo, in light of reports that some areas are without power for up to 20 hours a day. He and then his spokeswoman said that is not true. The spokeswoman, Marcia Poole, described a system in which “areas” which have a record of slow or no payments for power receive less frequent service that other, “better areas.” Prior to the recent cold weather, the best paying areas, referred to as “A,” received uninterrupted power (“theoretically,” the spokeswoman added). B areas received five hours on, one hour off.  The spokeswoman said proudly that now the A areas have this five on, one off schedule, so that the worst-paying areas, called “C,” now have two hours on, four hours off. So rather than being without electricity for twenty hours a day, the correct figure is sixteen…

   The allocation of electricity that an individual or family receives is not related to the individual’s record of payment, but rather the records of those among whom he or she lives. It is quite literally a form of profiling – a practice that, given the history of Kosovo and the region, one would think should be avoided. It is excused as related to the old wiring system.

            Neither Mr. Jessen Petersen nor his spokeswoman would answer questions about the progress and transparency of the UN-overseen privatization of Kosovar socially-owned enterprises. An early quasi-privatization inside deal involved US AID’s creation of a bank in November 2001, and sale of the institution in 2003 to Raiffeisen Bank. The most recent troubles involve the conditional (and controversial) sale in November 2005 of the Ferronikeli mines to Alferon/IMR, reportedly dominated by oligarch’s elbow-deep in Kazakhstan. Three months later, the $40 million sales price has yet to be paid. The reason given is the Kosovo Energetic Corporation’s offer to Alferon, to let it import its own electric power, has not been accepted. Close observers speculate whether Alferon is in fact angling to buy a chunk of the Kosovar power system, Korporata Energjetike e Kosovës, managed by the Irish company ESBI. Inner City Press will continue to report on this; the response to its questions was a referral to UNMIK Pillar IV in Pristina. Developing…



At the previously scheduled noon press briefing, which Soren Jessen Petersen had been slated to attend, the spokesman for the Secretary General, when asked by Inner City Press about the recently screened video of British soldiers beating Iraqi teenagers, said that such footage is “always disturbing” but that “it is positive that the British government is investigating.” We’ll see…

On the Internet:

Some previous reports:

Abkhazia: Cleansing and (Money) Laundering, Says Georgia, Even Terror’s Haven

Post-Tsunami Human Rights Abuses, including by UNDP in the Maldives

Halliburton Repays $9 Million, While Iraq’s Oil Remains Unmetered

Darfur on the Margins: Slovenia’s President Drnovsek’s Quixotic Call for Action Ignored

Who Pays for the Global Bird Flu Fight? Not the Corporations, So Far - UN

Royal Bank of Scotland Has Repeatedly Been Linked to Terrorist Finance and Money Laundering, Not Only in the Current Brooklyn Case

From Appalachia to Wall Street: Behind the Mining Tragedy, UBS and Lehman Brothers

Iraqis Absent from Oil Oversight Meeting on Development Fund for Iraq, Purportedly Due to Visa Problems

Watching the Detectives: Oversight of the Development Fund for Iraq Will be Discussed at the UN on December 28, 2005

From the UN Budget, Transit Strike, to the USA Patriot Act, 2005 Ends with Extensions

Some previous highlights and special reports:

Citigroup Dissembles at United Nations Environmental Conference

The United Nations' Year of Microcredit: Questions & No Answers

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